How I stumbled into Photography

Searching for the answer to the quintessential question… What am I going to do with my life? It had me going in circles. I’m not exactly sure why it took me so long to figure out that the only thing I should be doing with my life was the only thing I couldn’t imagine not doing. But for so long I beat my head against the bottom rung of the corporate career ladder thinking that’s what life amounted to.

The truth is that I never set out to become a photographer. I never even knew I had a passion for it until it found me just a couple years back. But the reason it found me is because I took a lot of chances. By putting myself out into the world and keeping an open mind I eventually found myself with a camera in my hand. Like most people I sometimes feel a bit lost in life and in one of those “What am I doing moments” I decided to hit the road with a backpack and let the universe figure it out for me. I knew that by setting out into the world I would eventually come across my path. So I put everything behind me and went.

I created a plan, saved up a little money and departed on an open ended trip through Latin America. At the time I only owned an 8 megapixel Kodak point and shoot. A few months later I came home with some great memories and still no clue about what I was doing. But I knew I had to get back out there. I started thinking about ways to sustain my love for travel and I eventually came up with an idea to create a travel blog (backpackingbary.com) which would generate a bit of money while I was doing my thing. I’d always loved writing and journalism and I knew I’d need a good camera if I were going to do it right. So deluding the romantic myth about my story… I just went online and bought one. Then I hit the road again.

The second journey was much different than the first, bringing with it a lot of ups and downs, but ultimately a wealth of life lessons which have shaped me into the person I have become today. Along that trip I fell in love with the art of taking photos, although I was only just learning to master the basics of my camera. I look back on some of the photos and think, “That was actually a pretty good shot… I didn’t overcomplicate it”.

As the trip progressed I began researching other photographers in much the same way people might research bands or athletes they admire. Maybe it had to do with where I was, or maybe who I am inside but I developed a deep admiration for the work of humanitarian photojournalists like Brent Stirton, Karl Grobl, and David Doucheman. I would look through the portfolios of what I consider to be courageous and adventurous photojournalists and I knew that this was something that had my name all over it. I reached out to these people and to my great surprise they were eager and happy to correspond with me from far off places like Burma and Sudan. I couldn’t believe it. It was like writing your favorite celebrity and having them write you back with encouragement.

What I loved about their photos was their ability to capture the essence of the human spirit. They so masterfully convey touching stories of human triumph and struggle. I am fascinated with humanity and our different ways of existing. I discovered a new way of looking at people and seeing beauty in things I’d never seen before; in the weathered eyes of an old man, or in the gleaming smile of a small child. The challenge for me at such an early and developmental stage was getting close enough to take such an intimate photo. I was a stranger in a foreign place. I was an outsider. Looking through my photos I knew I had to get closer. I knew I had to open up so that they would open up to me. This is when my passion began. This is where the flame started. It became and remains my greatest challenge.

The photos of which I speak I have yet to take. They are a part of my future and they wait for me as I write this now. I took the first step by beginning to photograph my friends and family you see here on my blog so that I could become comfortable working with people. Taking pictures is easy, but capturing the soul or the spirit of an inspiring moment remains the hardest thing to do. And because I love a challenge it continues to excite me. I still don’t feel like I’ve taken the perfect photo. And maybe I never will. But I know that I love it, and that’s the reason I’ve dedicated my life to it. I wouldn’t trade this path for anyone else’s. Thanks to all the people who’ve supported me along the way. You know who you are.

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Author:Barry Hackett

Barry is a wedding & lifestyle photographer with a passion for environmental and philanthropic issues. He currently resides in Long Beach, CA. You can view his other work at www.barryhackett.com and www.hitchedphoto.com

One Response to “How I stumbled into Photography”

  1. October 17, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    dig it :)

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